Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Penguins-Flyers Breakdown: Bursting Biron's Bubble



A lot of the hype surrounding this series has boiled down to the Penguins trying to solve the suddenly hot Martin Biron. While Biron will arguably play the largest role in determining the Flyers' chances, the amount of praise that has been lumped upon him seems to be a bit overstated, or at least hypocritical. Here are Biron's stats in the regular season compared to the playoffs.


Biron, purely by the numbers, was actually better in the regular season, and has only faced an additional shot per game this postseason. This doesn't factor in the quality of the shots or key saves, most notably in Game 7 of the Caps series. Still, either give the guy credit for a good season or lay off the Conn Smythe talk for at least this series.

Also, I'm having trouble understanding how Fleury is still unproven or untested, but Biron gets off the hook. Fleury has put up a 1.76 GAA and .938 SV% while facing an average of 28 shots a game. Facing four shots less per game can have an impact on your goals allowed, but not THAT much of an impact. If anything, Fleury has appeared to finally turn the corner while Biron is more of a flash in the pan, the next Johan Hedberg. Nothing against the moose, but he only got us to the conference finals too.

So if the Flyers defense is allowing around the same amount of shots and Biron is maybe playing only slightly better than he did in the regular season, then why are the Flyers' surging? It's all in the offense. Here are basic statistics for each team.




The Flyers are averaging an extra 0.6 G/GM in the playoffs. The Penguins are hitting at 0.5 G/GM higher now then in the regular season. While they are similar bumps in scoring, the Penguins had already shown an increase in their offensive output with the arrival of Hossa and Dupuis, averaging 3.21 G/GM from the trade deadline to the end of the season, only 0.23 behind their current pace. The Flyers were relatively consistent with their scoring throughout the year, indicating they may be playing above what they are actually able to produce consistently.

Defensively, the Penguins are lowering the ice curtain with a GAA of 1.89, which is 0.6 GA/GM lower than their regular season mark. Again, though, after the trade deadline the Penguins improved to a 2.36 GAA. While there are signs that this improved defense is here to stay due to the new personnel, assuming that the Penguins can maintain this gaudy mark is probably wishful thinking.

This series boils down to two units playing better than they probably actually are, going head to head, with one likely tumbling back to Earth. I'd have to give the edge to the Penguins, simply because they had displayed signs in the regular season that their defense had improved, and the new players add credibility to that argument. The Flyers, on the other hand, have played the second worst defensive team in the playoffs and a young and shaky goaltender who couldn't catch a cold in winter.

Either way you look at it, Biron is going to have to play better than he's already played and the Flyers have to crack a surprisingly stout Penguins defense. The chances of both happening are slim. Pens in 5.

Stats: NHL.com, hockey-reference

23 comments:

Stu said...

Hmmmm... How come no mention of the cupcake first round the Pens faced in the Ottawa Senators. Oh that's right, you probably left that one out, because they purposely lost the last game of the season so they wouldn't have to face the Flyers in the first round.

Sad thing is the Pens would have done better had they faced the Flyers in the first round. Now they worst fears have come true. They get to play the Flyers who are full of confidence now!! Flyers in 6!!!!

Rocco said...

Looks good for the Pens on Paper, but the flyers have been the underdogs all postseason. it'll be real close though. Flyers in 7!

NastyEmu said...

What's the point of analyzing these numbers when they have had zero common opponents and a minuscule sample size? No mention that the Flyers played against two of the most up-tempo teams in the first two rounds, while Pens played the disinterested Sens, and the slow it down Rangers.

It should be a great series, the Pens clearly have more talent, but talent doesn't always win out in the NHL playoffs.

Anonymous said...

I like Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam!!! You just laid a statistical beatdown upon my looking holes...AMAZING. Also, RARARARARARARARARGH!!!

Wieters said...

Where are all these Philly trolls coming from? Let's see if any of them have the guts to come back here if the Pens win the series. Somehow I doubt it...

Anonymous said...

get off the pens dicks- its gonna be a physical close series- stats dont = wins- flyers in 7 (crosby gets hurt in game 5)

Sam said...

@nastyemu: The stats may come from a small sample size, but thats why its just a trend. I just figure that it will even out somehow. Maybe it won't, but if I had to bet I'd say either the Pens D or the Flyers offense will come closer to their season long numbers, possibly both.

@stu: You're right about Ottawa, but I still think the Pens played the best of the 4 teams beaten in the Rangers. Huet is a solid goaltender, but he's not Lundqvist. People are wrong to say the Canadiens lost the series instead of the Flyers winning it, but stick Huet in net instead of Price and I bet they push it to 7 games. Thats a guess, but your compatriots seem to find hard evidence pointless, maybe they'll like random projections.

@the comments on Wyshynski's blog on Yahoo:
What should be scary to Flyers fans is that even if many of you are right, and Biron is playing better than any goalie has ever played the position, his stats now are worse than his regular season numbers. So Biron is playing phenomenal, then your defense must suck. Which means if Biron loses any sort of edge it will all crumble down.

Anonymous said...

I've watched the Pens for 20+ years and have never seen them put on a defensive display like they did vs the Rangers - holding them to looooong stretches without a shot on goal. The sheer number of shots on goal the Flyers have allowed in the playoffs is reflective of a shaky defense - they just haven't faced a team with enough firepower to make them pay for it.

wandering_goat said...

The stats may say one thing, but people who were watching the Philadelphia series can tell you how great Biron's been playing. The teams that he's faced have had loads of excellent opportunities and the saves he's had to make and his consistently solid positioning and general goaltending have been outstanding. Without him, the Flyers wouldn't have gotten this far, let alone beat Washington.

And I'm saying that as a person who's wanted the other team to beat Philadelphia in each round, including the upcoming one against Pittsburgh.

Anonymous said...

The Pens suck and you can all give Crosby a reach around later. The fact of the matter is the Flyers beat the Pens during the regular season and they're going to beat them in the playoffs. The team who gets hot in the playoff wins and right now that team is Philly. Flyers in 6.

Anonymous said...

Funny, half the flyer fans say that the shots the flyers d have given up were all outside low percentage shots.

At the same time they try to say how Biron has been steller.

Gerber and Lundy kept those games against Pittsburgh from being blowouts.. its only a matter of time before this team starts putting up 6 or 7. The Rangers played a tight defence... the flyers try to stand up at the blue line... its not going to be pretty.

Anonymous said...

what's all this talk from these jags from Philly about how the flyers are the "hot" and "confident" right now? The Pens have lost ONE GAME this post season!

Pens just tortured one of the best goalies in the game. Biron is going to get yanked in game one. Kristy Yamaguchi would light him up.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit! These miserable classy bas"tards" from Filthadelphia actually think that they have a shot? The Flyers are hot right now? Yeah, maybe hot like that burning sensation when you pee. The PENS lost just 1 playoff game. Biron is a joke. PENS in 5, but I'll keep my broom near by just in case.

Tommy, Wilmington, DE said...

I love how that one guy says the team who gets hot in the playoffs wins and its Philly...when the Penguins have lost 1 playoff game so far, and it was an away game. Good argument there, boss. I don't give two damns if the series goes to 7, if we hold our home winning streak, the series is ours.

Dave Wannstache said...

You know, just from reading these comments... I think if I cared about the Penguins as much as I care about the Steelers, I would absolutely despise the Flyers and their fans like I despise the Patriots and theirs.

Pat said...

trust me, you would 'stache. Although to be honest, I like that Flyers fans are strikingly confident. It is a refreshing reprieve from the "woe-is-us-lets-start-booing" mentality that seems to plague the other Philly sports.

ryan said...

-from wandering goat: "The stats may say one thing, but people who were watching the Philadelphia series can tell you how great Biron's been playing. The teams that he's faced have had loads of excellent opportunities"

so doesn't it worry you that the flyers are giving up so many shots and so many excellent scoring chances going into a series against the best offensive team in the NHL? the flyers may have gotten away with taking an abundance of penalties and giving up a ton of quality scoring chances against Washington who's only top notch scorer is Ovechkin and Montreal who's "top notch talent" is confined to Kovalev and apparently the Kostitsyn brothers. they will be hard pressed to get away with those flaws in team defense and concentration against a team that employs Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Gonchar, Sykora, Malone, Whitney, and Staal.

let's put it this way. if the flyers defense plays the way it did in the first two rounds and the flyers take a similar amount of penalties as they did in the first two rounds and they STILL manage to beat the Pens, Biron WILL be the leading candidate for the Conn Smythe. he'd have to be. short of the flyers suddenly finding a great defense or a herculean individual effort by biron (which his numbers don't necessarily point to as particularly likely), this series is going to the pens. if the flyers PK doesn't tighten up, it will go to the pens sooner rather than later.

K-Mart said...

you say that the penguins have only lost one game in the playoffs, but neglect to mention that they also played the worst team in the playoffs, while the flyers drew two of the best teams in the playoffs. for the flyers to dispatch the #1 seed with one loss (the same amount the penguins had to the #5 seed) gives them a ton of confidence that they are going to need in the series.

Dave Wannstache said...

I assume this is big news, considering that from what I've read this guy is the Flyers' best defensemen:

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/breaking/sports_breaking/20080508_Timonen_out_for_playoffs_with_blood_clot.html

Filthy said...

K-mart, you state that the flyers drew 2 of the best teams in the playoffs? Uh, the capitals had less points in the regular season than your beloved flyers, and didn't make it into the playoffs until the last day of the regular season. Do you even watch hockey? FYI, Carey Price was soft in all but one game he played all post season, nobody's impressed with the win over Montreal, they almost blew it against the Bruins(#8 seed). RICHARDS IS A DIVER!

Anonymous said...

lol..I love the Richards is a diver comment that's classic.

Kipper said...

Alot of Flyers Trolls.

NEWS :

Timonnen's Blood Clot says that the Flyers slim chances in this series have vanished. At least the Flyers fans can blame Timonnen's injury instead of the refs or the Bettman conspiracy.

Kipper
www.thepensforum.com

hergieburbur said...

I know its late, but this seems like as good a time as any to post a comment. To all the Flyers fans, all I gotta say is...

SCOREBOARD!